New study validates the business value and opportunity of AI

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As AI becomes more woven into society, its economic impact will be significant, and organizations are just starting to understand the extent of what’s possible. For companies to invest in AI though, it must make good business sense. Business leaders and decision makers need to understand the industry and line-of-business use cases that are best positioned to drive value within their organizations, what the return on investment will be, what time to value to expect, and how to get started. In short, they need help demystifying the business case for AI.   

To help companies understand the opportunities AI can unlock, Microsoft commissioned a study through IDC that provides unique insights into how AI is being used to drive economic impact for organizations. IDC surveyed over 2,000 business leaders and decision makers from around the world who are responsible for bringing AI transformation to life within their organizations. The study, which builds on the results from Microsoft’s Work Trend Index focused on workplace productivity, examines how companies are monetizing their AI investments, from generating new revenue streams to delivering differentiated customer experiences, to modernizing internal processes. Key findings from this study show*: 

  • 71% of respondents say their companies are already using AI 
  • 92% of AI deployments are taking 12 months or less 
  • Organizations are realizing a return on their AI investments within 14 months 
  • For every $1 a company invests in AI, it is realizing an average return of $3.5X  
  • 52% report that a lack of skilled workers is their biggest barrier to implement and scale AI   

The study illustrates that AI has demonstrable business value, and we are seeing this surface in core use cases within areas like employee experience, customer engagement and internal business processes, and how AI can help bend the curve on innovation. With generative AI, that value gets exponentially greater, as we’ve seen in the past year with generative AI technologies from OpenAI such as ChatGPT.  

“IDC is projecting that generative AI will add nearly $10 trillion to global GDP over the next 10 years.** Calculating the value of new investments in GenAI requires building the business case by simulating potential cost and responsible value realization,” said Ritu Jyoti, Group Vice President AI and Automation for IDC.   

This wave of innovation has accelerated the pace of AI adoption in ways that are changing and augmenting how we work and live, and Microsoft customers are increasingly embracing AI opportunities for business transformation. 

Enrich employee experiences: Employees in every industry are dealing with an increasing volume of digital debt and administrative burdens that slow down productivity and get in the way of meaningful work. To address this challenge, AI is being used to bring together unstructured data like social media, product details and customer engagement to better tailor communications, enable more intelligent insights and solve problems faster. Additionally, employees are using Azure OpenAI and Microsoft Copilot in Microsoft 365 to augment their copywriting capabilities for things like presentations, website content, case studies, blogs, press releases, search engine optimization and digital art.  

Reinvent customer engagement: With the heavy competition for customer acquisitions and retention, organizations have struggled to keep pace with the increasing amount of customer signals, and to deliver personalized service to customers in real-time. To drive greater customer loyalty, organizations are applying the AI capabilities of Dynamics 365 in contact centers for real-time assistance and guidance on suggested responses. Employees are also using AI to summarize conversations, guide on next steps, and get coaching feedback. Azure-powered virtual assistants are being used to deliver all kinds of hyper-personalized experiences across different verticals like healthcare for processing claims and entertainment for sports fans. Salespeople are using Viva Sales to help nurture leads and close deals. 

IDC graphic about AI and the bottom line
Reshape business processes
: Companies have pockets of valuable information scattered throughout their organization that can be difficult for employees to locate and use holistically. By finding and making connections across this information, AI can surface integrated insights that help to predict and accelerate workloads. This is particularly evident in cybersecurity, where employees are using AI insights to identify bad actors more quickly and better protect both employees and intellectual property. AI is also being used in manufacturing and operations, to create digital replicas of their supply chain environments so they can run simulations and optimize workflow management, resulting in enhanced supply chain efficiency.  

Bend the curve on innovation: This is an exciting concept as companies in every industry look to regain an edge. Organizations can deploy AI to stay ahead of changing business dynamics, and to exceed customer expectations. By not having to modernize every underlying system to achieve these results, and by putting AI directly in the hands of developers with GitHub Copilot, organizations can operate with agility and accelerate innovation.  Teams can leverage AI to help scale production and speed to market while being able to focus on higher-value activities.  

IDC survey data confirms that businesses are eager to adopt AI technology, with 71% of survey respondents currently using AI tools in their organizations, and 22% planning to do so within the next 12 months. However, even with this momentum and positive outlook for what AI can help them achieve, organizations are facing challenges when it comes to implementation. A shortage of skilled employees is holding companies back from accelerating their AI-based innovations, with 52 percent of those surveyed reporting a lack of skilled workers needed to implement and scale AI initiatives across business functions as the top blocker.  

To help address the skilling gap, Microsoft has already engaged over 6 million people globally in learning activities in the last 12 months and has ambitions to provide skills to everyone using our AI technology. We have also empowered our ecosystem of more than 400,000 partners worldwide with the skills needed to implement AI technology responsibly and to deliver greater customer value.   

No matter where you are in your cloud and AI transformation journey, Microsoft can help. To learn more about how customers across industries are shaping their AI transformation with Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Cloud blog which shares real-world examples of business impact being driven by AI, as well as resources and skilling opportunities you can use to build your readiness to lead the era of AI.  



About the study
The IDC study, commissioned by Microsoft, is based on results from 2,109 enterprise organizations totaling more than 13 million employees worldwide across 16 countries globally. Through the questionnaire, respondents were identified as the decision maker for AI within their organization.   

Source: *IDC Infographic, sponsored by Microsoft, The Business Opportunity of AI, IDC #US51315823, November 2023. **Generative Artificial Intelligence: A New Chapter for Enterprise Business Applications, IDC Perspective #US50471523, March 2023.